Another World Baseball Classic is upon us. Every four years baseball players from qualifying countries around the world get to represent their country on the world stage. The men of the north will look to make Canada proud at their fifth World Baseball Classic. Justin Morneau, Jason Bay, and John Axford have all worn the red and white on the big stage. Plus, Tyler O’Neill looks to have a big tournament as the cleanup hitter.
The history of baseball in Canada goes back to the 19th century. Baseball was first played in Canada in Beachville, Ontario, in 1838. The governing body of Baseball Canada was created in 1964. Therefore, that same governing body oversees Canada’s World Baseball Classic team. Although not every player on this list will have represented Canada, they helped grow the game of baseball. According to The Athletic, Canada is considered the ninth-best baseball country in the world heading into the tournament.
Canada at the World Baseball Classic
6x All-Star, MVP
Votto is widely considered to be the best Canadian player of the 2000s. In addition to being one of the best, he was named to both the 2009 and 2013 Canadian World Baseball Classic teams.
Votto has a career .297 batting average. Furthermore, he has over 2,000 hits and counting. He has over 7,000 at-bats in MLB, making him one of the most consistent and seasoned Canadian players. Of course, he is a staple in the Cincinnati Reds organization. Votto is far from done in his career, and talks have already begun about if he will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Fountain Valley, California, USA
6x All-Star, World Series Champion, MVP
Freeman will represent Canada again this year at the World Baseball Classic. He chooses to wear the maple leaf to honour his mother, who passed away from cancer. Freeman was not in any of the top batting categories at the Classic in 2017, but he will look to change that. Without a doubt, he is the highlight on the Canadian roster. He will be playing first base for the team.
Freeman brings a lot of experience to the roster. Not only was he on the team in 2017, but he has had a very successful MLB career. Further, he is going into the 2023 MLB season with over 1,900 hits. Like the other players on this list, he hits for average. In addition, Freeman has a career .298 batting average. Above all, it will be exciting to see what Freeman can do for Canada this year.
Maple Ridge, BC
Hall of Fame, MVP, 5x All-Star, 7x Gold Glove, 3x Batting Title
Larry Walker is the most recent Canadian to get his call to the Hall of Fame. He is pictured below with Fergie Jenkins this week in Canadian exhibition games. Unfortunately, Walker also retired before the World Baseball Classic. However, he is still a notable person to include because he was an excellent player, and will be the first base coach for Team Canada this year.
Walker is a very impressive player. His .400 OBP is an example. Furthermore, Walker is one of the few players who ended their career with an over .300 average. Just over 100 players have ever accomplished the feat. Walker hit for average and power and was considered a five-tool player. He can bring all this expertise to Team Canada players. He made an impact throughout his entire career and still continues to be in Canadian baseball post-retirement.
Walker has an interesting path to the big leagues because it is uniquely Canadian. He got his start with the Montreal Expos. A dream for any Canadian. Walker is very proud of his time with the Montreal Expos, saying “it was a great honour to put on the Expos uniform and represent my home country.” He is once again representing his country by coaching Canada.
Cubs vs Team Canada. Definitely a little conflicted as to which clubhouse to go in today. 😉🇨🇦 pic.twitter.com/iGEnfDye9U
— Fergie Jenkins (@fergieajenkins) March 8, 2023
Canada at the 2023 World Baseball Classic
Altogether, Canada has produced some excellent baseball players. Some of who have been lucky to represent Canada on the world stage.
Canada at the World Baseball Classic plays in group C in Phoenix, Arizona. They play four games in four days. Subsequently, the team is tough. Despite that, the goal would be to advance out of the group. Starting on March 11th Canada plays Great Britain, followed by the USA, Colombia, and Mexico.
Photo Credit: © Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Players mentioned: Justin Morneau, Jason Bay, John Axford, Tyler O’Neill, Joey Votto, Larry Walker, Freddie Freeman
Hi, I am Ryleigh! Lover of all sports, but especially baseball. Current sports journalism student, aspiring female in the field. Writer for the Toronto Blue Jays.